Sheppard Tops Fairbury Castrol® FloRacing Night in America Action
By Ben Shelton Stealing the lead on a lap-20 restart, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., led the rest of the way Monday at Fairbury Speedway for a 50-lap Castrol FloRacing Night in America victory in the second annual One For The Road presented by I-Beam Sliding Doors.
The third-starting Sheppard, the fourth of four leaders, drove his Rocket Chassis house car to a 3.012-second victory over 12th-starting Tanner English of Benton, Ky., at the quarter-mile mile oval.
PHOTO CREDIT: Josh James Artwork
"It's always special to win at FALS for sure," Sheppard said in victory lane after his 15th overall victory of the season.
Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., rallied late from the 17th starting spot for a third-place finish over track champion Mike Spatola of Manhattan, Ill., who improved 11 positions and held the second spot from laps 42-49. Gordy Gundaker of St. Charles, Mo., rounded out the top five while Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., who led the first nine laps, faded to finish eighth. Two other first-half leaders fell from contention near the midpoint.
Pole-starting Kyle Larson of Elk Grove, Calif., led laps 10-13, but he was forced to pit when his crew discovered a flat right-rear tire during a lap-20 caution period while the NASCAR star held the second spot. Garrett Alberson of Las Cruces, N.M., meanwhile, led laps 14-20 but dropped back on a restart and had to pit during a lap-27 caution after his right-rear wheel became packed with mud.
Larson came back to finish sixth while Alberson ended up two laps down in 15th.
The third-starting Sheppard had never even held the second spot over the first 20 laps when he found himself restarting behind Alberson, but Sheppard jumped into the high groove and took command in the 50-lapper.
"I was really hoping that top (groove) was going to be there at the end of the race, because that's, you know, that's where this Rocket house car, that's where we win most of our races is on the top," said Sheppard, who became the fifth different winner in as many Castrol FloRacing Night in America events this season. "We were pretty good in the bottom really, but I blazed the top for a long time before I went down there, and then my left-rear tire was overheated and it was shaking so hard I couldn't even hardly go down there. About the time it got cooled down the caution came out (on lap 20) and I had to go to the top (on the restart)."
The winner would’ve liked to have battled Larson — “He was definitely going to be tough tonight without that flat tire, so I hate that for him,” Sheppard said — but no one challenged him in the late stages.
"It was too treacherous going down the straightaway with the curb and everything to look down and see if (crew chief) Dan (White) was telling me I had a lead or not," Sheppard said, "so I was just going for all she had, and hopefully I put on a good show for everybody at FALS tonight."
English got to second on the 28th lap while running lower on the track than Sheppard, but he couldn't find a way past.
"I think I just showed Brandon my nose too soon," English said. "He turned up the wick there and really got on it after I got up beside him there. Congratulations to him and Bobby on third. We'll take it. Like I said, it was a good run for us. It was pretty awesome.”
The feature was slowed by four cautions, including two multiple-car incidents on the second lap. The first came when Boom Briggs, Jeffrey Ledford, Pierce and Bob Gardner were part of a turn-two mess. On the restart, Shannon Babb spun in turn three, collecting Frank Heckenast Jr. and Tyler Erb.
Hometown driver McKay Wenger caused a yellow on the 20th lap when his third-running car went up in smoke and debris on lap 27 triggered the fourth and final yellow.
Series points leader Jonathan Davenport had a starter wire fire in his heat race and retired, forcing him to take a provisional starting spot. He rallied to finish seventh in the feature.
Thirty-one cars entered the event. Larson set fast time in Renegade Race Fuels Qualifying with a lap of 12.727 seconds, then joined Clanton and Sheppard as heat winners while Dennis Erb Jr. captured the Buzze Racing B-main.
The tour resumes the 2021 season next Tuesday, September 21 with a $10,000-to-win program at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway.
On Tuesday, September 21 the pit gate opens at 1:00pm CST and the grandstand gate opens at 3:00pm with the driver’s meeting at 5:45pm. Hot laps are scheduled for 6:00pm with racing action to follow.
DIRTcar UMP Modifieds and DIRTcar Pro Late Models will join the night’s action.
The Super Late Model tire rule for the event is a Hoosier LM20 on all four corners with the added option of a LM30 or LM40 on the right rear. Complete rules can be found at www.flosports.tv/castrolfloracingnightinamerica/
For more information on the facility, please visit www.FarmerCityRacing.com .
Castrol® FloRacing Night in America runs from March through October with races at 10 tracks in eight states. Each event will be streamed live and on-demand only on FloRacing and also feature a new live studio show co-hosted by DirtonDirt.com’s Michael Rigsby and Derek Kessinger that includes commentary and expert analysis, social media integration via the FloSports app and special guests from the Dirt Late Model world.
In addition to races paying $10,000- to $22,000- to win, the Castrol® FloRacing Night in America also offers a points fund totaling $62,500.
Any questions regarding Castrol® FloRacing Night in America and its events can be directed toward series general manager Ben Shelton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 901-335-3037.
For more information on Castrol® FloRacing Night in America sponsors, visit the company websites at www.castrol.com; www.renegaderacefuel.com; www.keysermanufacturing.com/brand/integra-racing-shocks-springs; www.pitstopusa.com; www.pfcbrakes.com; www.buzzeracing.com; www.arizonasportshirts.com; and www.hoosiertire.com.
For complete details regarding Castrol® FloRacing Night in America, please visit the series landing page at www.flosports.tv/castrolfloracingnightinamerica/
Castrol FloRacing Night in America
One For The Road presented by I-Beam Sliding Doors
Fairbury (Ill.) Speedway – September 13, 2021
A-Feature Results (50 Laps)
1)Brandon Sheppard 2)Tanner English 3)Bobby Pierce 4)Mike Spatola 5)Gordy Gundaker 6)Kyle Larson 7)Jonathan Davenport 8)Shane Clanton 9)Frank Heckenast Jr. 10)Ryan Unzicker 11)Boom Briggs 12)Dennis Erb Jr. 13)Bob Gardner 14)Trevor Gundaker 15)Garrett Alberson 16)Mike Marlar 17)McKay Wenger 18)Jason Feger 19)Jeffrey Ledford 20)Tyler Erb 21)Shannon Babb 22)Ryan King
DNS: Dustin Vandermeir, Kevin Weaver, Kyle Strickler, Steven Roberts, Torin Mettille. Rich Bell, Scott Schmitt, Brandon Lance, Jake Miller
Renegade Race Fuels Fast Qualifier: Kyle Larson (12.727 seconds)
Integra Shocks and Springs Heat Race No. 1 Winner: Kyle Larson
Pit Stop USA Heat Race No. 2 Winner: Shane Clanton
PFC Brakes Heat Race No. 3 Winner: Brandon Sheppard
Series Provisionals: Jonathan Davenport, Ryan King
Buzze Racing B-Main Winner: Dennis Erb Jr.
Submitted By: Kirk Elliott